OGDEN, Utah – When he broke his neck as a passenger in a truck rollover five years ago, Kris Sanford lost the use of his legs as well as much of the mobility of his arms and hands, but the Weber State University communication student did not lose his competitive drive or his will to be of service.
Sanford has turned his energy to a world-record ride for a rehabilitation group. He’s training to ride a hand cycle — a modified bicycle peddled by hand — from Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Huntington Beach, Calif., — a journey of 1,100 miles on the back roads.
“My dream of playing college baseball ended in the accident,” Sanford said. “Now, the only muscles that work are my biceps, shoulders and upper back. In the hospital, I learned about a quadriplegic who hand-cycled 513 miles. Then I heard that someone else had gone even farther. It just kind of stuck in the back of my mind that I could raise money to help people with spinal-cord injuries by breaking the hand-cycling world record.”
Before his accident, Sanford was a high honor student at Clearfield High School with an academic scholarship and a position as catcher on the College of Eastern Utah baseball team. The team had just started spring training when Sanford and a friend volunteered to help someone move. Chris was a passenger when the moving truck spun out of control on wet roads and slid down an embankment. The force thrust him through the rear driver-side window as the vehicle rolled.
Sanford spent three months in the hospital and another year in rehabilitation. Time and therapy helped restore some movement to his fingers and toes and pressure sensation in the rest of his body.
Sanford eventually returned to CEU and completed his associate’s degree with honors and then he moved back home to Clinton, Utah, and enrolled at Weber State. He’s studying communication with an emphasis in public relations and healthcare marketing.
“The communication skills I’ve learned at Weber State have definitely helped me get sponsors and build public awareness for my cause,” Sanford said. “Ultimately, my career goal is to be a motivational speaker and spokesperson.”
Sanford wants to motivate others who are paralyzed. The goal of the ride is to raise $100,000 for Neuroworx — a Utah-based, non-profit partner of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Neuroworx helped Sanford rebuild his strength, confidence and determination.
“Many things are harder for me — for sure,” Sanford said. “But Neuroworx helped so much, as it helps so many people who are paralyzed. They help people get back into life, so they can do as much for themselves as possible.”
Sanford recently produced a short YouTube video, telling his story and promoting his ride. In the fall, he will turn his attention back to his studies at Weber State, so he can continue his preparation for a lifetime of inspiring others. For more information about the upcoming ride, visit spinalride.com.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
Link to high-resolution photo: http://wsuucomm.smugmug.com/photos/i-DWbGVZq/0/X3/i-DWbGVZq-X3.jpg
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